Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray Disc Player - Product Profile

Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray Disc Player - Front View with Included Accessories
Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray Disc Player - Front View with Included Accessories. Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The Blu-ray format is the current dominant high definition disc format. Blu-ray utilizes Blue Laser and advanced video compression technology to achieve high definition video playback on the same size disc as a standard DVD. In addition, the Blu-ray disc format incorporates the new high-definition audio formats, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD, as well as Uncompressed Multi-Channel PCM.

The Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray Disc Player:

The Sony BDP-S350 allows for true high-definition (720p, 1080i. 1080p) playback of new Blu-ray discs. Also, the BDP-S350 can play back standard DVDs with up to 1080p upscaling via its HDMI outputs. In addition, the BDP-S350 can also be used to play back standard audio CDs, including CD-R/RWs. Another advanced feature of the BDP-S350 is that it complies with the Blu-ray Format 1.1 standard, with built-in upgradability to Profile 2.0 via a firmware update.

Blu-ray Profile Compatibility:

Upon its initial release, the Sony BDP-S350 complies with Profile 1.1 specifications (BonusView), which allows access to interactive disc-based content, as well as Picture-in-Picture based disc features, such as simultaneous visual commentaries.

In addition, this player also has a high-speed ethernet connection and USB port (for adding external memory capacity via flash drive) to accommodate the firmware upgrades and added compatibility to meed Profile 2.0 specifications (BD Live), which include access to internet-based interactive content related to the Blu-ray disc that is being played.

Video Playback Capability:

The Sony BDP-S350 plays Blu-ray discs, standard DVD-Video, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RW discs. Via the Sony BDP-S350's HDMI output, standard DVDs can be upscaled to match the 720p, 1080i, or 1080p native resolution of HDTV's. Another bonus is that the BDP-S350 will also playback DVDs recorded with AVC-HD files.

This player can also access JPEG files recorded on Blu-ray discs, DVDs, or CDs.

Standard DVD playback is limited to the DVD region where the unit is purchased (Region 1 for Canada and U.S.) and Blu-ray Disc playback is limited to Blu-ray Region Code A.

Audio Playback Capability:

The BDP-S350 provides both on-board decoding to multichannel PCM as well as bitstream output for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and Standard DTS. This means that if your Home Theater receiver has the ability to access multi-channel PCM signals via HDMI, you can employ the built-in decoders in the BDP-S350. On the hand, if your home theater receiver also has built-in decoders for the above formats, you can use the receiver, instead, to decode all of the audio input signals.

Audio Playback Capability - Accessing DTS-HD Bitstream:

Although the BDP-S350 can detect a DTS-HD soundtrack on a Blu-ray disc, it cannot decode this signal internally and convert it to Multi-Channel PCM.

DTS-HD is only accessible via bitstream output on the BDP-S350 via HDMI. This means, that your home theater receiver has to have a built-in DTS-HD decoder to access this audio format. If your receiver cannot decode the DTS-HD bitstream, the receiver can still extract the DTS 5.1 core signal.

Video Connection Options:

High definition outputs: One HDMI (hi-def video and uncompressed digital audio), DVI-HDCP video output compatibility with an adapter.

NOTE: 1080p resolution can be accessed via the HDMI outputs. The BDP-S350 can output either 1080p/60 or 1080p/24 frame rates. 720p and 1080i resolutions for Blu-ray discs can also be accessed via Component video outputs. For more on accessing 1080p resolution on your TV, check out my article 1080p and You.

Standard definition video outputs: Component Video (progressive or interlaced), S-Video, and standard composite video.

Audio Connection Options:

Audio outputs include HDMI (necessary for access to uncompressed multi-channel PCM, Dolby TrueHD, or DTS-HD signals), Two channel analog stereo outputs, digital optical, and digital coaxial outputs.

Control Options

The Sony BDP-S350 has easy control, via wireless remote control and onscreen menus, of the following parameters: Aspect ratio, 720p/1080i/1080p output selection, Resume Play, and any Disc navigation functions that are present - such as subtitles, audio preferences, interactive menu selections, Bonus view functions, etc...

Note: For a closer look at the BD-PS350, check out my Photo Gallery

Accessing High Definition Content:

Depending on disc copy-protection, high definition output may only be accessible via the HDMI output.

However, if the disc does not contain complete copy-protection, it may allow output at 720p or 1080i resolution via the component video outputs as well. 1080p resolution can only be accessed via the HDMI output.

Access to high-definition output from a Blu-ray player via both the HDMI and Component Video outputs is determined by each studio on a case-by-case basis.

Availability - Pricing

The Sony BDP-S350 is available with an MSRP of $399, but can be found much lower, which makes it a good value. COMPARE PRICES

Final Take:

The Sony BDP-S350 offers practical, advanced, audio and video features for an affordable price.

However, the BDP-S350 does not have a 5.1 channel analog audio output option, which would be another way to access Uncompressed PCM, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD on home theater receivers that do not have HDMI audio read capability or that may not have HDMI connections at all.

On the other hand, the BDP-S350 offers HDMI 1.3. This provides increased capability to transfer high-resolution audio and video files between a source component, such as the BDP-S350 and a home theater receiver and/or HDTV equipped with an HDMI 1.3 connection.

In addition, HDMI 1.3 is also backward compatible with previous HDMI versions. In other words, if you are using a Blu-ray Disc player that is equipped with HDMI 1.3 output capability, you can still connect to a TV or Home Theater Receiver that has any previous HDMI version capability.

Another encouraging thing about this player is that it is upgradeable to Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) specifications. The upgrade is expected to become available later this year (2008).

For those that are Eco-conscious, the BDP-S350 offers several energy saving features, compared to Sony's previous BDP-S300 model, such as: 21% lower power use during playback and 43% less power use in standby mode. Also, another way Sony has lowered the environment impact of the BDP-S350, is that its overall size has been reduced by 55%, which, in turn, has reduced its weight by 38%, and its packaging requirements by 52%. Now you don't have to feel guilty about your high power-consuming Flat Panel, Projection television, or video projector, just off-set it with an Eco-friendly Blu-ray disc player.

If you haven't jumped into Blu-ray yet, prices of both players and discs are coming down, and consumers are responding. So far, Blu-ray is seeing a faster adoption rate than standard DVD did during its first two-to-three years of availability. Another thing that should put consumers at ease with Blu-ray, is that all Blu-ray Disc players, including the BDP-S350 can play back standard DVDs. In other words, your current DVD collection will not become obsolete as the years go by.

If you have an HDTV, get the most benefit from all the money you spent to purchase it. You can be enjoying true hi-definition DVD right how with the Sony BDP-S350 or other Blu-ray Disc player.

For a further look at the BDP-S350, check out my Photo Gallery as well as the User Manual and Quick Start Guide.

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